10 things I saw from Raptors-Suns (Dec. 5)

  1. Easy win: The Suns had absolutely no chance in this one. Not only were they playing on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, but the Raptors had spent nearly two straight weeks at home. Suns were lazy and fouled non-stop, which fueled the Raptors’ offense in the few instances where it stalled.
  2. KLOE: Kyle Lowry completely dominated every aspect of this game. Lowry was automatic from deep, pushed the pace relentlessly, took two charges to add to his league-leading total, dished out 10 dimes, and guarded at least three positions on the floor. It feels like he settles into this groove every December, and it’s a joy to watch.
  3. Clever: Raptors ran a clever screen the screener play for Lowry in the second quarter where he set a down screen for someone going through the lane, then rocketed around a screen from Jakob Poeltl to receive the point-to-wing pass for a three. He was undercut by the defender (not called) and still made it.
  4. Playmaker: Loved what I saw out of DeMar DeRozan. He pushed the pace as much as I’ve ever seen him do, which led to easy transition baskets. In the halfcourt setting, DeRozan drove with the next pass in mind and repeatedly found corner shooters setting up for three. He could have gotten a basket anytime he wanted to against rookie forward Josh Jackson, but what’s the fun in that?
  5. Revitalized: Serge Ibaka looks like a completely different player when given time to rest. Ibaka put in yet another strong performance on this homestand as he was blocking shots left and right, while also canning pick-and-pop jumpers like he was Dirk Nowitzki. I like that he’s getting a few more looks in the midrange instead of only shooting threes. I think this helps him find his range.
  6. Legacy: Ibaka was probably inspired to put on a good performance with Dikembe Mutombo in town, because he was working for every shot contest and even busted out the finger wag after one emphatic stop at the rim. Dikembe loved it.
  7. Confident: OG Anunoby is not afraid to shoot, or at least not anymore. He matched his career-high with 16 points thanks to four corner threes. Anunoby’s shot preparation was solid as he got his feet set, which helps a lot since his regular shooting motion features a lot of moving parts. Anunoby also worked in two dunks, including a putback near the end of the game.
  8. Solid: Jakob Poeltl should be called Chidi from The Good Place because he is always doing the right thing. Poeltl’s activity around the basket was excellent as always, and while he got bullied by Greg Monroe and dropped on Jackson’s crossover, Poeltl still flashed some moves of his own including a tight Eurostep to get around Alex Len, AKA shitty Jonas Valanciunas.
  9. Leadership: The Raptors, under the guidance of Masai Ujiri, celebrated the fourth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death. Your favorite team could never.
  10. Misfits: Sorry to end on a negative, but Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell were the only two who didn’t play well in this one. Valanciunas struggled with his decision-making on offense, while Powell was over-aggressive and undisciplined.